With a magic number of 9 and taking on the last place Bandits, the Heat needed at least a few wins and some results to go their way to secure first place. But the the likes of Maestri, Staatz and the Duttons making the trip from Brisbane, things weren’t going to be so easy…
Oh dear, it turns out I’ve had to inform my old employers that I will indeed be returning to work tomorrow despite hoping that I would have been employed as Alex Burg’s personal assistant by now. I thought sneaking into his house and polishing his boots with a note saying “there’s plenty more where this came from” would make me a shoe-in (hee hee), but alas the real world had struck its very predictable blow and it’s back to the office cubicle for TET.
This means all of those easy clean the house, clear out the back room, rake the leaves etc tasks that should have been done by the new year need to be done now. But apparently all of that has to be put on hold as Almighty Buzz Leader Boris has kindly informed me that I am 4 games behind on my write-ups. My response that this is good enough for 2nd place in the ABL standings didn’t generate the chuckle I had anticipated and I now find myself a slave to the keyboard with the cyber-whip cracking in my ears every time I pause to think about how to spell Barbagello correctly.
Game 1 takes us all the way back to Wednesday with a 3-2 extra innings victory for the Heat. I reviewed this game somewhat comprehensively thanks to having nothing else to do at 3am on Thursday morning.
Through the destruction of various brain cells during Game 3 (see below), the results of Game 2 are very hazy for me. But the standout memories are as follows:
- It was bloody windy. The type of wind that would instantly dry away any tears a pitcher has as he squints towards homeplate with a gale force blast right in his face. Conversely the hitter has this super-human feeling that even a bunt will carry over the fence.
- Considering the conditions, Maestri’s lone ER from a solo Mitch Graham shot illustrates how well he pitched on Thursday. This was the only hit that made it out of the infield as Maestri masterfully shut down the Heat offence.
- Sean Jarrett was equally outstanding coming in for the last 3 innings. He was so good that I didn’t even notice he had replaced Maestri until the 9th inning.
- The Bandit’s ability to string together hits hurt the Heat, with 10 of the 11 hits coming from the 3-8 spots. Josh Roberts being the highlight going 2-4 with a 1st inning HR off Sorensen.
- Robert Sorensen and his 7+ ERA was thrown to the wolves in game two after game one’s 12 inning marathon. Not sure if putting your #5 starter against the opponents ace in game 2 is the done thing, but it seems that Sorensen was taking the role of “innings eater” and the Heat were hoping to get to Maestri or eat away at any deficits late in the game from the Bandits’ bullpen.
- Luke Hughes made a big league play at Short Stop. Being the same age as Hughes I feel I should have the reflexes to at least to see the ball as it was shooting towards outfield wall, but it was a blink and you miss it line drive. Hughes did not miss, hurling himself 5 feet in the air to his right and making a spectacular catch.
- The Bandits were clinical in victory of the Heat, whose only 2 runs from the 6-2 loss came from solo shots from Graham and Webb.
Does everyone else remember when the first person from your age group gets married and you think “are we that old already?”. Well for me that was during Game 3, so naturally I was out the sauce while dressed much nicer than I am used to. I must have been really drunk as I remember checking the boxscore and noticing that the Heat were smashed in an 11-8 victory in which Heat infielder Adam Courcha pitched.
Turns out I wasn’t seeing things as Courcha was brought in to pitch to one batter to give Benn Grice a little more time to warm up in the bullpen, the damage being a single to center. The Bandits got to Schmidt early sending him packing after 4 innings. In the 6thinning the Bandits went for the jugular putting up 7 runs, three of them unearned thanks to a costly error by pitcher Tyler Anderson. On the mound for Brisbane, Ryan Searle struck out 9 in only five and two thirds innings. The Heat came back late, rallying from 11-2 to 11-8, but couldn’t finish off the comeback as John Veitch closed down the Heat in the ninth. Tim Kennelly was uncharacteristically quiet, only hitting 2 home runs.
With a playoff spot secure and a magic number of 6 to clinch first, the Heat yanked Wazza Saupold from their newly developed “Cliff Lee Cloning Room” to stop the rot in Game 4. Being down 2-1 in the series it was not lost on TET that if this was the championship series the Bandits would be home by now defiling the precious Claxton Shield and I would be hunting for the picture of my girlfriend that I removed from the mantelpiece in which to place my 2012 Championship Shrine.
Nevertheless, Warwick Saupold eased my very frayable nerves by being Warwick Saupold. Going 7 innings, Wazza was as impressive as he has been all year not allowing a single run and reducing his ERA to 1.63. The Heat got on the board early, as Tim Kennelly decided he wanted to hit another home run to put the Heat up 1-0. Kennelly would create the next run by stealing second and coaxing a wild throw into the outfield from catcher Mitch Nilsson that would score Givens. TK scored later that inning on a Mitch Graham double to make it 3-0. By the 4th inning it was 5-0 thanks to a Mychal Givens 2-RBI single and Luke Hughes scored on a wild pitch in the 5th to make it 6-0.
This would be all the Heat would need with Wazza on the mound and Todd Murphy coming in for the final 2 innings to close things out. With a 6-1 win the Heat would tie the series and reduce the Magic Number to 3 thanks to all sorts of crazy things going on over east with the Cavs and Aces getting their groove on.
Game 5 saw Matt Zachary giving up bullpen duties to take to the mound against Gold Coast State League pitcher Josh Warner. With the series tied at 2-2 you would think most people were talking about who would take the series victory, however with Daniel Lamb-Hunt in the lineup and Cameron Lamb being the only remaining arm in the Heat bullpen, Game 5 was really all about “What will happen when Lamb pitches to Lamb-Hunt?”. Evidently the answer was Lamb-Hunt reaches on an error which I guess is an equivalent of biting off the lamb’s tail but it getting away. Stalemate.
For those of you who don’t care about the superfluous crap that gets me excited, the Heat took the decider with ease, shutting out the Bandits for a 9-0 victory. This victory is a testament to the strength of the Heat bullpen, with Zachary, Lamb and Grice (Curried Lamb with Rice) going 3, 4 and 2 innings respectively for the shutout. Offensively the heat got things done with the long ball with Allan De San Miguel hitting two bombs to left and Mychal Givens driving one to right taking the seaons total to a ridiculous 60 dingers.
It seems a week is a long time in baseball. On Wednesday the Heat had a magic number of 9 against the second place Blue-Sox. Come Monday and the Heat find themselves needing a lone win against the now second place Cavalry to lock in home field advantage for finals. Things are getting really exciting with Canberra and Melbourne coming from nowhere to sit in playoff contention after demolishing their opponents this week.
The upcoming Bite-Sox series, previously seen as a battle for 2nd is now shaping up as a desperate scrap to remain in playoff contention. Brisbane still has a chance to secure their maiden playoff berth taking on Melbourne. While the Heat-Cavs series could be a preview of some finals action, I am looking forward to seeing how the remaining places play out over the next two weeks.
I sign out with some interesting tidbits
- The Heat are 18-1 in red this year and only wear red for Away and Day games. After losing 2 straight, it seems they put on their red duds to help break up the losing streak in Game 4’s night game.
- The Heat are the only team with a record above .500. The question remains if they can stay this hot for the playoffs?
- Speaking of, rumors are surfacing that the playoffs this year may be 5 games instead of 3, but I don’t know how much credence to put on urinal-chit-chat.
- Don’t believe me about Cameron Lamb’s Spanish alter ego? This is his walkout song.